As I talked about last week, coming back to the plague novel after two months off and with a fistful of beta-reader feedback was a real struggle for me. There were so many problems that I didn’t know where to start.
I decided to organize everything into a to-do list. This has worked amazingly.
First, I had to just find my beta reader feedback sheets. Compiling them all into Scrivener was kind of a chore in and of itself, because some of them were emailed, some were private-messaged on a discussion board, and others came to me through Facebook messenger. Note for next time: ONE format for returning feedback.
Second, I went through them and I noted everything that the readers noted as problems. There were many more “this is so cool!” sections than problems, which was great to read, but not as helpful for the revisions that I knew needed to happen.
Third, I took that random list of thing and organized it into two sections: big things, and small things. Small things included continuity errors, age errors, minor issues with foreshadowing. Big things included fixing the pacing in the first twenty chapters, large areas of foreshadowing, character arc and motivation issues, and problems with my characters being more reactive than proactive.
Fourth, I made a separate section that I just titled “thoughts.” This was the section where I noted down what I thought would help fix some of the issues, and other things that I thought I could add or change.
Finally, I made a section called “positive feedback.” I keep looking at this section when I feel discouraged to remind myself that the vast majority of the feedback I received was positive. Because I’m focused on trying to fix things up, I’m focused a lot on the negatives, but there are a lot of positives there. This is a good reason to keep going with the revisions and to try to sell this novel.
Making this to-do list in this format worked really well to get me over the inner heckler hump (“oh criminey you’re so bad at this why are you even trying this is a huge mess you can’t fix it”) and into a productive state of mind. Now I have a checklist of things that I can do to help fix the mess, and a list of positive things that I can look at when I’m feeling down. I think I’ll plan on doing this when I start getting betas back on my second manuscript.